A look ahead to tomorrow's gameBristol Rovers entertain a Chesterfield team who are just four positions above Rovers in the table. The Gas come into the game on the back of a run of four successive defeats.
The mid-week loss at home to Southend was especially disappointing as it came after an encouraging display against Sheffield United in the FA Cup.
Chesterfield have picked up just one point from their last three League games, although they did thrash Hartlepool in the FA Cup 6-1. That point came from their last game in a 0-0 draw at Bradford City’s Valley Parade ground.
A free kick from Gary Jones drew a fine save from Chesterfield keeper Richard O'Donnell in the first-half. The Spireites responded with a John Egan header from Jones's corner which went just over the bar.
The Yorkshire team had the better of the opening exchanges with winger Zavon Hines especially tricky. After he had been brought down for the second time in quick succession, the Blues keeper O'Donnell did well to tip Jones's free-kick from 20 yards around the post. Nahki Wells then went close for the home team with a 30-yard effort which drifted wide.
Scott Boden's offside ‘goal’ was the nearest the Derbyshire team came to scoring in the first half. Late on Bantams’ substitute Alan Connell went close to claiming all three points for the home team when a Wells cross fell into his path, but his shot went narrowly past the angle of post and crossbar.
Talking after the game Chesterfield manager Paul Cook said, "It was a very disciplined, hard fought, ground-out point. After Saturday's game when we were so pleasing on the eye, coming to Bradford you know you're going to be out under pressure. Creatively we were poor, which is fine... But defensively we were strong.
“Bradford are having a fantastic season, but defensively we were very strong and we restricted them to very few chances. It was a night when our flair players couldn't get into the game and create chances, but when you get a point away from home that is very good. It wasn't a great game but to get a point when you are not playing well is a good point."
Paul Cook has only been at the helm for just two weeks. John Sheridan was sacked following relegation in 2011-12 and just two draws from the opening three games of this season. In fact it was six games before the Spireites recorded their first victory. Tommy Wright and Mark Crossley had been jointly acting as as caretaker managers until Cook’s appointment.
Considering that both teams have been the lower reaches of the League for most of their relative existences there has not been that many meetings, 32 in total. The first League meeting was on 3 October 1970, when Rovers beat the newly promoted Chesterfield 3-2 at Eastville.
The very first meeting however dates right back to 1 February 1907 when Southern League Rovers beat Chesterfield 2-0 in the FA Cup at Eastville.
Remarkably it was another 57 years before they crossed paths again and this time the Derbyshire team gained their only ever victory in the west country A First Round League Cup tie saw Fourth Division Chesterfield, inspired by a fine goalkeeping performance by John Osborne, record a 2-0 victory over Third Division, Rovers.
Chesterfield hold a special place in Bristol Rovers club history as an unremarkable 1-1 draw at Eastville on 26 April 1986 was the last ever first team fixture played at Eastville Stadium. Oddly enough the Spireites earned another 1-1 draw towards the end of the following season at Twerton Park; in their first ever visit to Bath.
Since League meetings commenced there have been 12 Rovers victories and 3 draws in Bristol and Bath. The last clash was on 18 March 2000 when Rovers ran out 3-1 winners at the Mem.
News from Derbyshire reveals that the Blues have signed 19 year old Brighton winger Brennan Dickenson on a one-month loan deal. The former Southampton Academy graduate, has not yet made his Seagulls debut, but will go goes straight into the squad.
Paul Cook commented, "He's a very energetic, left-sided midfielder or left-sided striker who'll bring a lot of balance to the team. We'd like to thank Gus Poyet for his role in allowing him to come here."
Speaking to the media ahead of the game, he said: "We'll line up the same [as Tuesday night] again on Saturday; I think the lads have certainly earned that right.
Talking about his team plans Cook commented, "For the likes of Scott Boden, Rands [Mark Randall] and [Danny] Whitaker, they certainly worked hard enough on Tuesday night, it wasn't a game where they could influence the game greatly and the easiest thing to do would be to say to them 'oh you haven't played well'.
"Their performance last Saturday at home has given them the right to play again. Certainly going forward we know we must improve on Tuesday's night’s performance, it's something we accept, and they're certainly players that can do that for us.
"We can't always play attractive football, we'll not always score goals but you must turn up. A supporter will always appreciate the ground you're going to, the team you're playing, the conditions and when they applaud you off it means they're happy with what they have seen.
"It doesn't mean you play great football and everything's fine it means you've given a level of performance that is acceptable and certainly at Bradford that was the case."
Talking specifically about Rovers his went on to say, "I think certainly at the start of the season they [Bristol Rovers] were, well certainly in a lot of people's mind, fancied to do well. They've obviously had a couple of really serious injuries to key players at the club which has affected them. Big injures to players at a club will always affect you.
"Going there as a player and as a manager, it's a very difficult place to play football. The crowd are very hostile, they get behind the team and to come away with anything on Saturday we must perform."
It’s a message that Mark McGhee will have hammered into his team after the disappointment of the capitulation on Tuesday.
Written by Gerry Prewett.